Lifestyle

Fur will fly in dogs and disc tourney

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

You’re doggone right if you think canines can fly.

A bunch of them will prove it today in Federal Way during the 2002 Skyhoundz Hyperflite Canine Disc Northwest Regional Championship at Saghalie Junior High School.

The fur will start flying at 9:30 a.m. and continue well into the afternoon as dogs and their owners compete for spots in the World Championship, to be staged Sept. 21 in Atlanta, Ga.

The dogs that will race up and down Saghalie’s football field and leap into the air in pursuit of discs tossed by their masters “are not run-of-the-mill housedogs,” said Peter Bloeme, director of the Skyhoundz competitions. “These are amazing athletes.”

By Wednesday, at least 60 dog/master teams from Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Utah and Wyoming were registered for today’s tournament. The first and second-place finishers in the top class of competitors will receive expense-paid trips to the world event. The top two teams in a second division today will be invited but will have to pay their own way to Atlanta.

The regional and world tourneys are sponsored by Skyhoundz, an Atlanta-based company which produces books, videos, products and events for disc dog enthusiasts. Bloeme is the company’s founder.

Judging by the results of last year’s World Championship, Australian shepherds and border collies are the best of breed for disc catching. Nine of them, including the border collie that won, were among the top 12 finishers.

But even a “mutt” can be a good catcher, Bloeme said, noting that mixed breeds go paw to paw with purebreds in the big tournaments.

“There are a lot of recreational players. Just about any dog wlil take to it,” he said. “There are some exceptions. A dacschund, for instance, isn’t going to work out. But for most dogs, it’s great exercise and a lot of fun for them and their owners.”

People start their dogs in disc catching with short tosses and by rolling a disc along the ground. The latter teaches dogs to track it, Bloeme said.

For spectators, who can watch free, some of the best viewing today will start at about 11 a.m. with the trick-filled freestyle competition. Before that, distance catches will be the game.

Bloeme said Federal Way was selected as the site for the Northwest Regional because of a “strong following” of the sport in the Puget Sound area. The regional also has been staged in Seattle and Tacoma.

City officials for Federal Way helped arrange for this year’s venue.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and editor@fedwaymirror.com

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